4 Los Angeles County beaches remain under high bacteria warning
The beaches of Los Angeles and Orange counties remain under the high bacteria warning issued by the California Department of Public Health to mark the end of the public health campaign aimed at reducing outbreaks of norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses linked to swimming in California seas. But public health officials said there are no signs of a drop in norovirus cases in recent days.
The virus kills more than 1,000 people a year around the world, mostly in the United States and in Europe, but it has become a major threat in several developing countries. Norovirus spreads from person to person by swallowing contaminated food or water that includes the virus. The World Health Organization says noroviruses are widespread but are less common than in some countries.
Bacteria are common on all California beaches, a fact that has raised concerns about the public health effort to make swimmers and surfers more aware of precautions. They include campylobacter, a bacteria that is naturally carried by humans and other animals.
At some beaches, state health officials have found that the bacteria levels are so high that they have to close the beaches to the general public. Other beaches remain open only to people with government-issued swimming passes or who are guests of hotels.
On Monday, state health officials also issued a report recommending that people who have had diarrhea should stay home from drinking raw and undercooked food or water until the illness is fully cleared.
Public health officials said they expect the number of norovirus cases to stay near the 400 to 600 cases per week in the near term but that the peak in cases is likely to pass by the end of May. The state health department has been monitoring norovirus in the county for more than a decade, but public health officials said there are no signs of a drop in norovirus cases in recent days.
“We are going to keep monitoring,” said Dr. Sam Khader, a health department physician who leads the county’s Norovirus Surveillance Program. �